When Dawkins admits that scientists are "working on" finding answers, yet "don't know everything," O'Reilly retorts: "When you guys figure it out, then you come back here and tell me, because until that time, I'm sticking with Judeo-Christian philosophy."
Dawkins nails the fallacy on the head, replying: "It's a most extraordinary piece of warped logic to say that because science can't answer a particular question, you're going to throw in your lot with Jesus, when there's no evidence he did it either. ... Throw in your lot with science, which at least is working on the problem."
O'Reilly's core assumption seems to be that we need answers, and therefore any system that claims to provide the answers is necessarily superior to one that cannot.
Perhaps I'll put my life in the hands of pixies, because pixies can do magic spells and modern medicine can't. But of course, we all know that a real doctor who can't work spells is infinitely better than an imaginary pixie who can.
Whether something is true doesn't appear to figure in O'Reilly's argument - just whether it gives answers. Although I doubt O'Reilly is a fundamentalist, per se, he has unwittingly reproduced a classic fundamentalist argument that amounts to "anything is better than uncertainty." This fear of not having the asnwers the worst possible reason for sticking with belief, though probably the strongest when it comes to keeping people in the grip of an irrational faith.
Dawkins continues: "You must see that it's a most remarkable piece of illogic to say that because science can't fill a particular gap, therefore we have to turn to Christianity?"
And he is right. That science doesn't answer every question is no more a reason to embrace Christianity than it is to embrace Islam, Hinduism or Scientology.
Oddly, when Dawkins makes this point, he is accused of fascism, a remarkable non-sequitur in a debate that makes O'Reilly look facile and desperate. Surely the defenders of theism can do much, much better?
Update: At the BHT, the same commenter adds:
OK, so O’Reilley didn’t make the greatest case in the world. But he did pin Dawkins down on the essential question: you can [tell] me how we get here, but you can’t tell me who or what started it all. All Dawkins said was that science would come up with the answer, eventually. Give us scientists more time, after all, we’ve done a good job on everything else.
On one hand, I was impressed that Dawkins admitted that he couldn’t answer “who started this”? He didn’t give us some lame, probabilistic, stuff-can-appear-out-of-nothing nonsense. So Bill basically pinned him down to having to admit that he can’t answer the important questions: who we are, why we care, etc…
I'm not sure how this is an "admission," if that implies some sort of failure; nor is it a case of being "pinned down," as if the information were squeezed reluctantly from Dawkins. Why should it be a surprise to hear a scientist admit that science does not have all the answers? Science has no problem with unknowns. Having unknowns is only a shortcoming if you assume what needs to be proved, namely that the answers are there to be known in Christianity.